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Sambasivan & Parikh | Yali Books

Lioness of Punjab

Lioness of Punjab

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Words By: Anita Jari Kharbhanda | Cover Art By: Anantjeet Kaur

Sikh history as illuminated through the voice of the warrior-saint Mai Bhago

“We will fight here,” I commanded the warriors. “We are strong. We will have no fear. As Sikhs, we are ready to fight for justice. Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa! Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!”

It is the winter of 1705, and the tenth Guru of the Sikhs is under attack by the armies of the mighty Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb. Under siege and isolated, Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s men are exhausted beyond measure and forty soldiers decide to head home. Back in the villages of Punjab, these forty men are met by a fiery Sikh woman—a warrior who has been preparing all her life for this very moment—who leads the deserters back to the Guru. This is the story of that warrior, the fierce Mai Bhago, who chose the sword to symbolize her unwavering loyalty and devotion to her people and her faith.

This energetic coming-of-age young adult novel brings us closer to Mai Bhago, a warrior revered in the Sikh community and beyond. Readers are invited to witness her courage and sacrifice in the face of tyranny, making her a shining inspiration for young activists everywhere.


A Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People (2023) 

"…Bhag Bhari’s strong Sikh faith and courage shine throughout… An illuminating look at Sikh history."—Kirkus Reviews

"...a riveting historical tale...the narrative’s careful focus on Bhag’s development of her vocation; her relationship with her husband; and her community’s willingness to grow and change with her that proves thought-provoking and inspiring."—Publishers Weekly


Historical Fiction, Biography, First Person, Coming of Age, Courage, Asia, Grief and Loss, Religions, Siblings, Strong Female Protagonist, War, Women's Studies, World History, Sikhism

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Book Details

Reading Level Recommendations

Grades: 9-12

Ages: 14-18


Subject Categories

YAF024100-YOUNG ADULT FICTION / Historical / Military & Wars
YAF005000-YOUNG ADULT FICTION / Biographical
YAF022000-YOUNG ADULT FICTION / Girls & Women


Hardcover: 9781949528718

Paperback: 9781949528961

eBook: 9781949528954

PDF: 9781949528756

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  • Note From the Author

    Learn more about why the author wrote this book.

  • Discussion Guide

    Questions from the author to foster a deeper classroom or book club discussion.

Anita Bio Photo

Meet the Author

Anita Kharbanda is an Indian-American engineer by trade, and a storyteller by heart. She lives in North Texas with her loving husband and two sons. An avid lifelong reader of all kinds of fiction, she revels in seeing her children do the same.

The healing power of letters filled with family history inspired Anita to start writing. She now writes the kinds of stories she’s devoured through the years, with one difference. She promised herself she’d write stories about the characters she dreamed of seeing in books growing up, and lift the voices of those who go unheard.

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